A couple of weeks ago I shared my recipe for Coq au Vin, where I reduce the red wine sauce and infuse it with aromatics, in advance of adding the meat. It really worked wonders to create a rich sauce with a nice depth of flavor, so I decided to apply the same process to another classic French dish, Boeuf Bourguignon.
The two dishes use a very similar set of ingredients, with the obvious exception that one uses beef and the other chicken. Like Coq au Vin, this is not one-pot, hands-off cooking. It is a bit of a labor of love, and takes a couple of hours - but it's a wonderful project for a weekend afternoon, with music playing and a glass of wine in hand. I like to make a double batch, so the fruits of my labor last a little longer with some leftovers in the freezer.
I should also mention that I used salt pork in this dish, but you could equally well use lardons or bacon. After discussing my plans for this Boeuf Bourguignon with my (French) butcher, he insisted I use salt pork. He insisted with such vigor that he actually gave me the salt pork for free and wouldn't sell me anything else. Immersing ourselves in these sorts of food stories and traditions is one of the great joys of life in South West France.
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1 cup rich beef stock
- 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 sprigs thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 pounds beef, slow-cooking cuts like chuck, blade, shin or leg - you also want your beef to be cut into big, generous chunks of at least an inch thick
- 1 cup salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips - you could also use lardons or bacon, if they're more readily available
- ½ cup plain flour
- 15-20 baby onions, peeled - if the process of peeling becomes too tedious, you can top and tail the onions and then blanch them in boiling water to loosen the skins
- 2 cups mushrooms, either whole button mushrooms or white mushrooms cut into quarters
- 12 baby carrots, peeled and ends removed - if you can't find baby carrots, use regular carrots cut into thick disks
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil, if extra fat is needed
- Fresh parsley, roughly chopped as a garnish to serve
- Pour wine into a Dutch oven (or similar heavy based pan with a lid) and bring to the boil over high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and beef stock. Reduce heat and simmer for around 30 minutes.
- While the wine is infusing with the aromatics, remove any excess fat from the beef.
- Scatter the flour on a flat surface and season with salt and pepper. Then thoroughly coat each piece of beef with the seasoned flour. Set aside.
- Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and fry the salt pork (or lardons/bacon) until enough fat has rendered for you to start frying the baby onions and mushrooms.
- Begin with the baby onions, and fry them until they are lightly caramelized. Set aside.
- Now season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, and using the same saucepan, fry until juicy. Set aside with the baby onions. If you need a little more grease for frying, you can add some additional olive oil, although I didn't find it was necessary.
- Finally, in the same saucepan, sear the beef until all sides are golden brown, then set aside.
- At this point, we no longer need the salt pork (or lardons/bacon) as they will not be included in the final dish. We were using the fat to add depth of flavor to the vegetables. So either discard, or refrigerate for another use.
- Your red wine sauce should have reduced significantly in this time, and become infused with the flavors of the aromatic vegetables and herbs. Strain the mixture and discard the solids. Set aside.
- Once all of the beef has been seared, use some of the red wine sauce to deglaze the saucepan that you used to cook the beef. Add this rich beefy juice to the red wine mixture - it will give your sauce more depth of flavor.
- Now transfer the beef to the Dutch oven with the red wine sauce, and bake in the oven at 350°F (180°C for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Use a fork to test the tenderness of the beef. If you're satisfied that it has tenderized enough, add the carrots, onions, and mushrooms and cook for a further 30-45 minutes until the carrots have cooked through.
- Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley, and a side of mashed potatoes or celeriac puree.
- My sauce didn't need thickening, but if you feel yours does - mix 1 tablespoon of plain flour with 4 tablespoons of cold water in a cup, then add it to the simmering mixture and stir to combine.
- You can also add a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you feel your sauce needs more flavor, although I didn't find it needed anything extra.
- This recipe doubles easily and freezes well.